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Landscape of the Soul

Author: Nadeem Zuberi      Publications: Business Recorder (p- 2)      Dated: 28 May 2011

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Mussarat Mirza has travelled a long way from the early 60s when she obtained the MFA degree from the Fine Arts Department of the Punjab University. Her rustic figures and buildings, homes and trees all in a cubist patterns with lurking cones, spheres, squares, oblongs, triangle and cubes enveloped in a blaze of light bouncing off the objects and figures. Blurring human figures and architectural details is her iconic style from the beginning of her career, which she intently does.

In her recent series of paintings titled Hain Muntazir at Chawkandi Art Gallery, Karachi, she portrays human condition through philosophical and aesthetic artworks. Her knowledge and insight helps her rendering mental states of people effectively.

Her exceptional skills turn the canvas into a hazed reality which emerges from the heavy texture and specks of colours. The traces of figures and objects peep through the broken patches of colours. Her tonal painting brilliantly portrays her subject under changing tones of colour and light on different sides of an object or figure.

The different hues of dull colours merge into each other without losing their identities concealing the composition into darkness; there is sometimes a ray of light indicating hope.

The series is different from Mussarrats famous deserted scenes of Sukkur and other nearby villages, especially those seen from the roof top. The dusty atmosphere of her paintings with a few natural colours – browns, greens and blue-greens in subdued tones with a pinch of red shows her signature style.

Another noteworthy feature of her paintings is the loneliness, solitude and silence that seemed to envelop the scenes. She veered more towards such subjects as empty staircase, lonely chair, deserted streets, abandoned old buildings where only dark windows are the only link to the outside world.

There is something soulful and mystical about these empty spaces she paints. Even the title of the exhibition Hain Muntazir supports my point.

Her paintings in oils hints at deep moving experiences imbued with a pensive and sad meditative ambience.

Liberated from the world of appearances, the tangible she works on her own imagined universe, the landscape of the soul, where she wants the viewer to read tangible realities.

The conceptual contents of her paintings are vigorous and therefore hold the viewers attention. She translates her feelings almost literally in her canvases by dramatic use of contrasting light and shade of a vibration of one low colour against another. The strong and energetic vision of internal relation of a persons body and soul is presented by her in a unique and influential manner. She forms semi realistic scenes by forceful brush strokes skilfully achieving the detail representation of her subject.

She finds true projection of herself in soulful solitary scenes with dusty atmosphere and silence. The soothing charm of her paintings is uplifting and elevating at times.